The first time I heard that quote it made me stop and think. After all, I have heard a lot about love in my lifetime, and I am sure you have, too. But what is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an action? Is it just for adults or married people?
I have come to believe that genuine love begins with understanding. When we learn how to understand another person, we begin to truly know what is going on inside of his or her heart. When we connect with people on their deepest level, they do not have to give us a long explanation regarding what is taking place inside of their heart or mind. We already know! The reason we know is because we have taken the time to get to know them and to understand them.
The next time you are ready to tell someone that you love them, change the words. Instead of saying, “I love you”, say to them, “I understand you.” Then watch the expression on their face! Then, go into detail, with emotion, telling them what you think is going on in their heart. (Caution: If you do not understand them and cannot accurately tell what is going on inside of their heart, perhaps it would NOT be a good idea to try this!) You see, this is not meant to be a manipulative technique. It is meant to be real. It is not easy. It takes time and practice. But after all, isn’t that what love is all about? Isn’t that how you want to be loved? Don’t you want to be understood at your deepest level?
Nothing touches another person’s heart like genuine love. It transcends all barriers and creates a feeling of warmth and security like nothing else can do. It may be simple, but it is not easy. My experience has taught me it is the hardest work you will ever attempt to do. It requires time, sacrifice, listening, empathy, patience, focus, commitment, and most of all, understanding.
Alfred Adler was born in Vienna in 1870. He became a psychiatrist and devoted his entire life to science and helping people. He was the forerunner of relational therapy as we know it today. Until he came along, therapy was just a collection of cognitive techniques, so he wanted to change that approach. He sought to have real, personal relationships with each of his clients by seeking to understand each one. That was when he “discovered” love. His entire approach to therapy was in helping a person develop a feeling of community and connectedness because he believed that was the source of good mental health. His goal was to help each client understand his or her own uniqueness and to see the value and contribution each one brings to others. In short, he taught a philosophy of love based on understanding.
Do you think what is taught in the movies or on television is the best way to teach love to someone? Is it simply outward beauty or sex appeal? Elizabeth Taylor was often referred to in Hollywood as the most beautiful woman who ever lived. I wonder what her eight husbands thought about that! (Actually, there were only seven – she married Richard Burton twice!) Or, in a more modern-day example, do you think real love is what we learn by watching “The Bachelor”? Seriously?
What is your approach to love? Is it simply a lot of talk or is it based on deeds, truth and understanding? If you ask ten people, “What is love?”, you will probably get ten different answers! That is one of the reason Alfred Adler sought to find the real answer to meeting a real need in the human heart.
Love with understanding is a lifelong process and project. I trust this Tip will clarify love in your life and relationships. I know it has mine!
Tip: “He who feels loved feels understood and he who feels understood feels loved.”
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm